I’m a city boy, or so my wife tells me, but I do enjoy living out here in the wild country, surrounded by all but one of the four landscapes that man has least trammeled, sea, sky, mountain, and desert. We don’t have desert, but we have the others, and all of them stretching for miles to the far horizon. Walking takes you from one breathtaking view to another, whichever direction you are going. Mountains is probably a bit of an overstatement to describe the Magillycuddy’s Reeks it’s true, more like high hills, but craggy all the same, if not exactly with the grandeur of the Alps or the Himalayas. Such views sooth the soul and keep the gods alive in your heart. Not so much if you were born and bred here, according to some of my neighbours, but that said, most of them do appreciate the beauty of the place where we live.
In the city the only one of those majestic views available is the sky. When I was doing my degree, a couple of hundred years ago or so, we had a discussion about a Wordsworth poem describing a thundercloud gathering over the Lake District in North West England, where he was living at the time. The discussion turned to skies we had seen, and out of a group of around fifteen, only two others could remember looking at the sky during the past two or three weeks. I look at it every day, and always have done.
We live in a world where it is sometimes easy to think that everything is about the material world, as Madonna called it, the world of politics and economics, how much money have I got and what can I afford and what do I want and what car do I drive? And so on. In Kerry the good times and the bad times come and go and nothing much changes. Right now we’re watching some ruinous housing flung up by cowboys in the name of the Celtic Tiger as it raked its claws across the land, fall back into the earth. No-one cares much. There are some that have got in the way of the view but they will fall, we can be sure. As a pal said to me a few years ago, there have been more villages in sight of our house than are here now, and if they built a casino there would still be the old man walking down by the pier with his dogs, and the fishermen tending their boats, and the seagulls and the herons, and the cormorants and the oystercatchers and the rest scattered over the beach or perched on the rotting wooden posts. The smell of seaweed and the ocean still overwhelms the temporary reek of petrol.
I was outside just now, as the sun was going down, and photographed the pink and orange clouds and the cerulean sky beyond. The sky is as it has been for millenia, vast and full of light and mystery.
Wherever you are, take a minute and look up. Takes the blues away, doesn’t it?